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Council Workshop with School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee July 18

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Council Workshop with School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee July 18
Posted on 07/14/2016
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The City Council will hold a workshop meeting on Monday, July 18, with the new committee the council recently created to study a $70.6 million bond proposal to pay for renovations at Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth, and Reiche elementary schools. The workshop will begin at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The new School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee is made up of members of the council and the Portland Board of Public Education. The  school board representatives are school board Chair Marnie Morrione, who also is co-chair of the new committee, and school board members Stephanie Hatzenbuehler, Sarah Thompson and Anna Trevorrow. Mayor Ethan Strimling is the other co-chair of the new committee and city councilors Nick Mavodones, David Brenerman and Justin Costa are members.

At the council workshop, Morrione will present the background and history of the bond proposal, known as the Buildings for Our Future Initiative. Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana will speak to the educational need for the school renovations, and architecture and engineering firm Oak Point Associates will give an in-depth review of the initiative. City councilors will then have an opportunity to ask questions and make requests for further information, if needed.

Last month, the school board authorized Morrione to request that the council act on the proposed $70,593,229 million educational facilities rehabilitation bond and send it to Portland voters in November. Board members and parents say the Buildings for Our Future bond is necessary because the aged facilities are in urgent need of improvements to ensure that all district students have access to facilities that meet safety and compliance standards and their learning needs. “These improvements will have lasting effects on our children’s lives for decades to come,” Morrione has said. “Academically great and safe neighborhood schools attract families and improve our local economy, making Portland an even more desirable city.”

After receiving Morrione’s request, the council on July 6 voted to create the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee to review the proposal.

It is not clear whether the new committee’s work can be completed in time for the bond to go on the ballot in November. However, Morrione has stressed that the “school board and district staff are committed to working expeditiously to ensure we maintain momentum with this proposal and get it to the voters.”

The district has been studying for years how to transform five aged and deteriorating elementary schools in the district into 21st century centers for learning. One of those schools, Hall Elementary School, is eligible for state funding. Portland voters in April approved spending $29.7 million to build a new Hall school on the existing site. All but $1.4 million of the bonded amount will be reimbursed by the state.

The $70.6 million estimate to upgrade the four remaining schools, Presumpscot, Longfellow, Lyseth, and Reiche, comes from the latest Buildings for Our Future report from Oak Point Associates. None of the schools has had significant improvements recently.

For more information, visit the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee page on the city’s website, www.portlandmaine.gov, or click here.